Dynamics of natural infection by Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina in dairy cattle from an enzootic instability area in Northeastern Brazil

Abstract This study aimed to determine the dynamics of natural infection in the transmission of Babesia spp. to cattle in an enzootic instability area in Northeastern Brazil. Blood samples were collected from 30 calves located on two dairy farms to determine the packed cell volume (PCV) and the timing of the primo-infection using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and their association with climatic factors and management practices. On Farm A, the determination of primo-infection was observed on average at 249.4 (±24.42) days of age for B. bigemina and at 252.6 (±17.07) days of age for B. bovis; there was no significant difference between the times of infection (P> 0.05). The infection coincided with a period of high rainfall in the region. On Farm B, primo-infection infection was not observed. There was no infection by Babesia spp. on Farm B due to the intensive use of acaricides that led to an absence of ticks. There was no significant difference between the average PCV of animals from Farms A and B (P> 0.05). The management practices on the properties, in addition to the weather conditions influenced the exposure of the animals to disease vectors and may have contributed to the maintenance of this enzootic area in Northeastern Brazil.